If you’re wanting to support better methylation or you’re freaking out because you’ve just gotten tested and discovered that you have an MTHFR SNP – this blog is for you.
Firstly – don’t panic! For one, just having the SNP doesn’t mean it’s all gloom or doom, and if you do have the SNP there are things you can do to protect your health. Essentially, if you have the MTHFR SNP, you can’t get your folate into its methylated form, because your methylation pathway isn’t working, and then you can’t recycle your homocysteine back into methionine.
If you’ve read the previous blog you know that methylation processes are absolutely central to our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. It’s a biochemical process involved in almost all of your body’s functions.
Two of the main types of MTHFR variations are called C677T and A129BC. The C677T variant is the one that is linked to problems. Those of us with the MTHFR variation have a defective MTHFR enzyme. We produce 30 to 70% less methyl-folate than someone without the mutation does.
That can be bad news. With lower methylation our entire Methylation Cycle is disrupted, affecting antioxidant production, brain chemistry, cell repair, detoxification, energy production, genetic expression, immune response, inflammation, and many other crucial processes.
But don’t worry: there are lots of ways to increase your methylation and keep yourself running at your best.
Having the MTHFR variation is actually a GIFT and an opportunity to eliminate tipping point factors that lead to disease. Your genes are one of many factors influencing your health and performance. You determine your future through the lifestyle habits that you commit to each day.
- Oxidative stress, (Read our blog here)
- Alcohol (yes, as in wine, beer, and liquor)
- Yeast die-off, from having and treating yeast (also known as candida or thrush) whether with herbs or medications
- Elevated nitric oxide, which is common with chronic fatigue, inflammation, autoimmunity, and Lyme disease; nitrous oxide gas treatment at the dentist will also increase nitric oxide
- Autoimmune antibodies
- Inflammation in general
- Food sensitivities and leaky gut,
- Toxins in the environment and in our personal care products
- Heavy metals (like mercury, lead, and aluminium)
In his book Dirty Genes Dr. Ben Lynch talks about two types of genes, those that are born dirty and those that become dirty. Here are some lifestyle factors that can make our genes dirty. I explain this further in Should I be Freaking Out About my Genes?
- Too many carbs
- Too much sugar
- Too much protein
- Not enough protein
- Not enough healthy fat
- A shortage of nutrients that your genes need to work properly, such as B vitamins, vitamin C, copper, and zinc
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Electrolyte deficiency
- Not enough deep, restorative sleep
- Going to bed late, getting up late
- Irregular sleep patterns
- “Dirty” food
- “Dirty” water
- “Dirty” air—including indoor air
- “Dirty” products: sprays, cleaners, cosmetics, paints, pesticides, herbicides
- Physical stress: long-term illness, chronic infections, food intolerance/allergies, insufficient sleep
- Psychological stress: issues at work, at home, with your loved ones, with life
Now let’s focus on the proactive steps we can take to support our methylation.
Tips To Improve Your Methylation Pathways
Repair Your Gut
Number 1. If we want to move our body and our methylation processes back into balance, then we really can’t look any further then our gut health. Yes, methylation issues are all about gene variations but the deficiencies experienced with poor methylation can potentially be met with the B vitamins that our microbiome manufactures. That is -when our microbiome is thriving and healthy.
When we invest in our gut health, we preserve the body’s intelligence to create these essential vitamins. When our gut is unhealthy and leaky – our liver has to work harder to try to create some of these B vitamins. Often the liver is so burdened from toxins and poor methylation processes (yes, it’s a round-robin cycle, unfortunately) that it doesn’t prioritize methylation and these processes become more inefficient.
In his book Dirty Genes Dr. Ben Lynch says, “Repairing the digestive system and optimizing the flora should be one of the first steps in correcting methylation deficiency”, and that includes treating candida because of the toxins it releases, inhibiting proper methylation.
Start With Your Stomach Acids
Methyl groups are derived from organic compounds such as proteins when they are broken down in the stomach by the acid you produce. So, wait for it – drum roll please – if your stomach acid is depleted or its production is inhibited, then you will end up with inadequate methylation.
I wish I’d known this sooner. Each pregnancy I’d suffer from reflux which is a sign of low stomach acid. At this time, I knew very little about methylation.
Good gut health begins with the start of the assembly line and that my friends – is the stomach and stomach acid. Most people are under the misconception that they have reflux and stomach issues because they have lots of stomach acid. This is not correct. Please see our gut health blogs on how to test your stomach acid levels.
Ditch All Folic Acid
If you have MTHFR gene variations, then folic acid is your enemy. And it’s everywhere—supplements, energy bars, foods, drinks. Cut it out of your life. Right now.
Folic acid BLOCKS your body’s ability to absorb B vitamins through your diet, in doing so it may PERPETUATE vitamin B deficiencies.
Deep, restorative sleep is your best friend here—it’s the best stress-reducer I know! Sleep will lighten the burden on your MTHFR as well as on your Methylation Cycle.
Avoid Cow’s Milk
In many cases, you’ll want to avoid cow’s milk dairy entirely. Food allergies and/or sensitivities to dairy produce antibodies that may clog your folate receptors. Goat’s and sheep’s milk products are usually fine—unless you have an autoimmune disease. Cow’s milk products may be okay after you’ve cleaned up your diet and healed your gut.
Eating dark leafy green veggies daily provides you with natural folate (a methyl donor), necessary for proper methylation. Get your folate from natural sources, including dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, bok choy, and Swiss chard. Aim for the sky I say and eat 2 handfuls in every meal. Green smoothies, salads, green vegetables. You got this!
Leafy green vegetables are key for you. Eat them. Often.
Get Your B’s From Real Food
B vitamins are methyl donors, especially folate, B6, B12, and riboflavin. In general sources of B vitamins include fish, eggs, dark leafy greens, asparagus, almonds, sunflower seeds, and walnuts.
Folate – Vitamin B9 Folate is a needed inducer of several of the detoxification pathways. It is considered brain food. It breaks down homocysteine, a toxic and inflammatory agent produced by the liver if not properly converted. Folate has direct mood-elevating properties and is synergistic with serotonin production.
Vitamin B12 is crucial to the formation of healthy red blood cells, energy production, nervous system support, cognitive function, and homocysteine regulation.
Vitamin B 12 is naturally present in beef (grass-fed only), lamb, liver, seafood (dark-meat fish) shellfish (crab, clams), eggs and dairy products. It may be harder for vegetarians and vegans to meet their daily needs for vitamin B12 from food sources without relying on supplements or fortified foods.
Support Methylation With Supplements.
If you have SNP’s that impact your methylation then speak to your practitioner about which type of activated B vitamin is best for you and how often you would need to take it. I love Ben Lynch’s “Seeking Health” products and find this product works well Active B 12 with L-5-MTHF for most people, however, speak to your practitioner as some people need to start slowly.
Alternatively, you can get tested or start with reading his book Dirty Genes.
Here’s another great option if you prefer: Thorne-Research-B-Complex-12 60 Capsules
Get Your Broader Micro-nutrition
Make sure you also get adequate amounts of magnesium and zinc, curcumin, fish oil, Vitamins C, D, E, which all support methylation.
Boost Your Glutathione
Have a read of our blogs on glutathione here and why it’s essential when supporting methylation:
I love this brand: Optimal Liposomal Glutathione
Ditch The Three Whites
Methyl groups can also be depleted through consuming a diet comprised of the 3 “white deaths”—white sugar, white flour, and white salt, as well as processed oils and fats, industrial pollutants, pesticides, junk food, and soft drinks. These foods dirty your genes and load your liver.
Filter Your Drinking Water
By removing fluoride, chlorine, arsenic and other unwanted chemicals from your water, you reduce the work your dirty MTHFR has to do.
The good bugs in your gut help produce and absorb B vitamins and folate. So make sure you are proactive in building your gut health. I have had good results with this probiotic.
Reduce Stress, Booze, Smoking And Toxins.
These toxic “splinters” burden your liver and use up methyl groups.
Avoid Exposure To Toxins.
We tax our methylation processes when we load the body with toxins including chemicals in our food, our homes and self-care products. cleaners etc
Make time for gentle detox regimens throughout the week. That can include infrared sauna sessions, Epsom salt baths, and regular exercise or sweating.
As you can see there are lots of proactive steps, we can take to support our methylation processes. So, go forth my friends and happy methylating to you all!
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